As the NCAA season progresses, I’m going to publish weekly rankings in conjunction with the USCHO poll. These rankings will be entirely statistics based with the explanation as to how those stats are developed here. As I prefer to do when compiling rankings, a team’s final ranking will be determined by a summation of their rankings in various statistical categories:
- Overall winning percentage (pct)
- Goal differential (+/-)
- Percentage of shots taken (S%) – (Editor’s Note – This is essentially the best imitator of Corsi %. I’m told that shot attempts (Shots on goal plus missed shots plus shots taken that get blocked) are recorded but that data is not available anywhere.)
- Percentage of shots taken relative to Opponents’ S% (Rel S%)
- S% versus teams with an S% of 50% or more
- Rel S% versus teams with an S% of 50 or more
- Shooting Percentage (Sht%)
- Save Percentage (Sv%)
The quality of competition statistics require all teams to have played multiple games so they will not be used this week. Also I have taken to making all of my spreadsheets available for download here.
Well at least we got rid of Cornell. Wait, they received the most votes from non-top ten teams? Sigh… Rankings are really a bad way to illustrate the talent of each team because they suggest that the differences between adjacent teams are all uniform. That’s not the case. You can split the top ten into three tiers.
Tier 1: Nearly flawless teams, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Tier 2: Minimally flawed teams, Boston College and Clarkson
Tier 3: Good teams with obvious flaws, Everyone else plus probably Boston University, Cornell, Mercyhurst, Minnesota-Duluth, St. Lawrence, and Syracuse.
Tier 4 would be decent teams that will never crack the top ten and Tier 5 would be bad teams.
I’ve added the previous weekend’s results along with each team’s movement from the previous week although it’s still early enough in the season to produce some weird results. Again, eight teams make the NCAA Tournament so let’s run down the top eight:
There’s not much to say about the Gophers at this point, they’re amazingly good. They even spotted Minnesota-Duluth a 2-0 lead before ending all their hopes and dreams en route to a 5-2 victory.
Golden Gopher players sit 3rd through 6th in scoring and they won’t play a serious threat to their loss column until Wisconsin in December.
Wisconsin still hasn’t conceded a goal in WCHA play with a 29-0 figure through six games. Bemidji State looked not completely out of their league against the Badgers on Friday with a 26-19 shots disadvantage but were blasted 46-16 in that category on Saturday. The Beavers aren’t an offensive juggernaut, but it’s kind of terrifying that no one has been able to score on Wisconsin yet.
3. Boston College
I watched that first game against Cornell in terror, afraid the Big Red were going to make me eat my words for criticizing their top ten ranking all season long. Thankfully BC quieted my doubts with two empty netters to seal a 4-1 win and an 8-0 shellacking the following day. Cornell is not an elite team, but they’re a solid team and BC deserves some credit for dispatching them so handily.
If there’s one reason to criticize Clarkson, it’s that sometimes they aren’t aggressive enough. Their dedication to two way play is laudable and will get them far in the ECAC, but I thought they could have taken more chances against UNH and put both games out of reach early. I don’t think the Wildcats are as bad as their winless record either though so I wouldn’t ding Clarkson too much. Wins are wins.
Quinnipiac is not the fifth best team in the country, but they’ve taken care of their business where other teams have had the occasional hiccup. With their love of pressuring the puck carrier all the time, everywhere, they don’t often lose games they should win and this weekend was no exception with a 6-3 defeat of Yale.
I feel like the Bobcats are going to dip a bit around the middle of the season and then start to gain steam late as sophomore Taylar Cianfarano and freshman Melissa Samoskevich gain confidence and grow into leaders. They are the future of this team, and possibly of USA hockey as well.
My metric likes it when you blow the doors off a good opponent as Northeastern did in their 7-1 win over Boston University. Instead of waxing on about what Northeastern did this weekend, let’s just watch them eviscerate the Terriers.
7. North Dakota
The metric really doesn’t punish teams enough for drawing with the 29th ranked team. North Dakota is a good team that sometimes can’t score and isn’t consistent enough to be a serious threat to make the NCAA tournament as an at-large entry. They actually had the opposite problem against St. Cloud State though, letting in 4 goals on 11 shots on Saturday. It took 8 minutes of empty net time to erase a 4-1 deficit and even get the draw.
It also doesn’t punish enough for struggling against a brand new program. Somehow Colgate got a tenth place vote in the USCHO poll too. I think they’re better than they were last year, but ‘better’ in this case means somewhere around 20th in the NCAA instead of 25th and maybe challenging for an ECAC playoff spot.
The Best of the Rest
Dartmouth currently leads the ECAC, easy to do when only two teams have played. Not so easy when that one game is against the fifth ranked team in the nation. And it didn’t look like a fluke either, Dartmouth looked better than Harvard the entire game, dominating the Crimson in shots 33-21.
Dartmouth isn’t deep enough to compete for an ECAC title, but they are chock full of good players, chief among them seniors Lindsey Allen, Laura Stacey, Ailish Forfar, and Catherine Berghuis. Junior Kennedy Ottenbreit and Sophomore Brooke Ahbe are also solid and Dartmouth will be a tough out this year in the ECAC.
St. Lawrence continues the slow recovery from a brutal early season schedule that saw them play six games against three teams that are currently nationally ranked. They’ve got two more next weekend in Harvard and Dartmouth so they can’t pat themselves on the back too much for beating Syracuse.
That said, Syracuse is a good team and they’re hungry for more success. Beating them is no small feat and the Saints looked good doing it, opening a 3-1 lead before conceding a late goal when the game was all but in the books.
Like Dartmouth, Princeton is a team to keep an eye on in the ECAC. The current iteration of Mercyhurst isn’t the Lakers team of old that was usually a legitimate contender, but they’re still solid and sweeping them is a good way to open the season. Goaltender Kimberly Newell was drafted by the NWHL’s New York Riveters so she’s playing to impress.
It’s easy to shuffle Connecticut into the ‘not good enough’ bin, but they’re currently 3-1-2 and just swept a Penn State team some thought was just outside the top ten. Goaltender Elaine Chuli is among the best in the nation and Connecticut can expect to be in more games, especially with BU’s decline this season.